Cracks appear in Central Asia on supporting Russia

>>Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan call for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be respected>>

>>Reasons for not backing Russia are varied>>

ALMATY, April 8 (The Conway Bulletin) — Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan have reportedly broken ranks with other former Soviet states and declined to sign a memo calling for sanctions on Russia to be dropped.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Bishkek most members of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) agreed to back the petition which was to be sent to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) (April 3).

But Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan — along with Ukraine and Moldova — declined to sign the document, the local language service of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
All three of the Central Asian and South Caucasus countries have form.

The West has imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea from Ukraine last year and for its continued support for rebels fighting in the east of the country.

Azerbaijan’s cause is probably a sovereignty issue. It doesn’t want to set a precedent that would allow the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh to drift further from its control.

Uzbekistan’s reasons are more deep-rooted and linked to its traditional unilateral stance on issues concerning Russia.

And Turkmenistan could be just aiming to irritate Russia.

It appears that Ashgabat is locked in a worsening row with Russia over gas supplies and the devaluation of the rouble. Earlier this year, Turkmen president Kurbanguly Berdymkuhamedov blamed Russia for Central Asia’s economic troubles.

Regardless, the failure to secure the full backing of CSTO members in Bishkek is a — largely overlooked — diplomatic miss for Russia.


>>This story was first published in issue 226 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper. The Conway Bulletin is a fully independent newspaper reporting on Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

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